Final Fantasy: Which Games Are Co-Op?
By Tristan Jurkovich
Published Feb 21, 2021
The Final Fantasy games may not be the first to spring to mind when one thinks of cooperative multiplayer, but several of them are great for that.
Despite this series being thought of as a massive string of single-player RPGs, there have been a lot of Final Fantasy games that have offered multiplayer in some regard. Phone games are especially heavy?on promoting crossplay nowadays, but none of those games will be discussed for various reasons.
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This breakdown will mostly focus on true co-op experiences?in the series. Before diving in, honorable mention should be?given to two Japanese-exclusive options that could have made the cut. Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII had multiplayer in the Japan version on PS2, and Final Fantasy Type-0 had co-op on the PSP version. With the rules in place, let’s get to it.
1991 was technically the first time co-op appeared in the series via Final Fantasy IV. Players could plug in another controller and that player could control some of the party. However, that’s?the true extent of it —?they couldn’t control anything outside of battle. While that’s a bit dubious in terms of fairness, regardless of further hair-splitting, this system was used for Final Fantasy V, Final Fantasy VI, and Final Fantasy IX, and it works across the SNES and PS1 versions of all four games. Further down the line Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light and Theatrhythm Final Fantasy also featured turn-based co-op.
This game released for the PS1 in 1998 in Japan and a year later in North America. This spinoff was a roguelike dungeon crawler starring a Chocobo. Another player could jump in and control the bird’s AI partner, but their abilities were?limited.?In fact, the AI seemed to be stronger. The latest entry, Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon Every Buddy, which was a remaster of the 2008 Wii game, allowed for similar buddy control — although it was a little more involved than Chocobo’s Dungeon 2.
This?MMO duology is where the franchise’s multiplayer really came into its own. Final Fantasy XI released in 2002 on the PS2 in Japan, with that version not coming out until 2004 in North America. However, they did get the PC version in 2003. While a solid recommendation for co-op, as it was incredibly hard to play alone, the PS2 and Xbox 360 servers have been shut down as of 2016. The PC version is still going strong though — with the latest expansion, Rhapsodies of Vana’diel, hitting a year earlier in 2015.
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Moving on, Final Fantasy XIV originally launched in 2010. It was so bad that Square Enix pulled it off shelves and rebooted it in 2013. Now it’s one of the best-selling and most highly praised entries in the series. It fixed a lot over the original release on top of being a less archaic game than Final Fantasy XI. It can be played alone quite easily now, but the true fun is in giant co-op parties.
This series debuted first in 2003 in Japan and a year later in North America. It was a unique multiplayer setup, and expensive too, as it required four Game Boy Advance consoles and four Link Cables. The 2020 remaster fixed that but deleted local play in favor of online support. The next entry was Ring of Fates, which used the wireless capabilities of the DS for support.
The sequel to that, Echoes of Time, was strange because it released on DS and Wii. The Wii version had no noticeable differences between the handheld version, which rubbed some people the wrong way. It’s not a perfect series of multiplayer games but they are all fun in quick bouts.
The 2007 PSP re-release of Final Fantasy Tactics had an optional mode called Rendezvous. Players could team up together?to earn special rewards and JP using their own characters from their save files. But this version of the game was notoriously slow, so not a lot of people got into it. Prior to this, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance also had co-op missions, but there weren’t many. Strangely, the DS sequel didn’t offer multiplayer of any kind.
Final Fantasy Explorers was like the spiritual successor to Crystal Chronicles, as well as Square Enix’s answer to Monster Hunter. It released on the 3DS in 2014 in Japan and 2016 in North America.
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Players could customize their avatar with a Job and go out into the world to farm monsters for parts to create better gear. It was a repetitive cycle that wasn’t as intuitive as Monster Hunter, but it did support four players. Fans certainly wouldn’t mind if Square Enix gave it another shot.
Square Enix?toyed with the preceding concept again when it released the free expansion, Comrades,?for?Final Fantasy XV. It has since been cut off from the main game and stands alone as a free-to-play RPG. It’s more like Destiny, although one that is more mission-based and lacking in exploration elements. It was a novel idea to make more use out of this world, but it also seemed half-baked — like?many of the other Final Fantasy XV side projects.
This fighting game series started on the PSP, but the first two games were all one on one arena fighters. This latest entry, which first hit Japanese arcades in 2015 before coming to PS4 in 2018, allowed players to have three on three bouts. This then allowed Square Enix to finally put co-op into the series. Players can join up with two other people online to face off against a rival three. It gets chaotic as a fighting game but it is satisfying to bust out now and again. It is also free to play now.
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About The Author
(738 Articles Published)
Tristan Jurkovich began his career as a journalist in 2011. His childhood love of video games and writing fuel his passion for archiving this great medium’s annals. He dabbles in every genre, but he’s particularly fond of RPGs and portables. Secretly he enjoys the Just Dance series a little too much. Aside from writing, Tristan also hosts a plethora of shows on his YouTube Channel, ReActionExaminer.
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